Midwife is the moniker of multi-instrumentalist Madeline Johnston; she lives and works in San Miguel, New Mexico by way of Denver, Colorado, where she spent the better half of the past decade developing her experimental pop project. As a self taught guitarist and recording engineer, Midwife explores dark subject matter in her anthemic, soft-gaze hits.
When 2020 began, Johnston had several national and international tours planned (including a highly anticipated set at the year’s Roadburn Festival) to promote her album released just prior, the critically-acclaimed Forever. Unfortunately, the pandemic rescheduled everything and Madeline shifted her focus back to recording and back to her internal landscape. Luminol was written and produced during this time, and the album features 6 new songs which explore dark subject matter in her trademark dark yet crystalline manner.
Serendipitously, almost exactly one year to the date of Midwife’s ultimately postponed performance at Roadburn, Luminol’s first single “Christina’s World” premiered over the weekend as part of Roadburn Redux programming. Today, we’ve unveiled the Alana Wool-directed video for all to see.
Luminol is a chemical used by forensic investigators to reveal trace amounts of blood left at a crime scene. When it reacts with blood, luminol emits a chemiluminescent blue glow that can be seen in a darkened room. In the same way this chemical reveals evidence at a scene, Midwife is interested in profound truth - turning trial and tribulation into sources of light. Luminol navigates themes of incarceration, locus of control, clarity, self harm, confinement, agency, and truth-seeking, all erupting in a bioluminescent Rothko color-field of blue.
The Luminol album cover shows a dark figure standing at the edge of a body of water. It symbolizes the way humanity had been on a precipice throughout 2020, to later find out they had been there all along. Being one of Midwife’s most personal records, Luminol's cover artwork is a picture of Madeline Johnston's mother taken in the 1980’s, when she was the same age as Madeline at the time of the album's recording. By redacting the figure, Johnston hopes that anyone could see themselves there, by the water, as a form leftover when all the elements of their lives are stripped away and what is left is a host.
Luminol features collaborations from various artists and on "Christina's World," Midwife is joined by Flenser label mate Dan Barrett (Have A Nice Life) for additional vocals and keyboards, and additional guitars by Tucker Theorore. Luminol also features contributions from Angel Diaz (Vyva Melinkolya), Zachary Cole Smith, Ben Newman, and Colin Caulfield (DIIV).
Luminol, track listing: 1. God Is A Cop 2. Enemy 3. 2020 4. Colorado 5. Promise Ring 6. Christina’s World